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As Generation Z enters the workplace a new era of communication style has dawned. Of course, it’s been evolving for some time but unlike previous generations (particularly Boomers), many Gen Zers have an unprecedented aversion to making phone calls. This resistance represents a significant challenge for many workplaces.

Gen Zers and phone calls

This article speaks to the changing norms of phone usage whereby, “the simple act of making a phone call has emerged as one of Gen Z’s greatest weaknesses.”Younger generations have grown up surrounded by technology and many use phones more than previous generations ever did, but they are engaging in a very different way.

Gen Z tend to experience much more anxiety around making phone calls. This is partly because, “texting and using apps such as Snapchat, prevents mistakes from being made. Texting allows Gen Z to proof read and keep track of their conversation.” Somehow we’ve got to the point where phone usage for Gen Z’s is very minimally about phone calls.

Gen Zer and Social media influencer Tommy Cockram articulates the perspective of many in his generation in this SMH piece, “phone calls seem more intimate and personal, Cockram says, something reserved for people you inherently trust and feel no discomfort or pressure around.”

So how are Gen Z workers coping in jobs that require them to frequently make phone calls? According to Commbank research, almost 60 per cent of Gen-Z workers admitted they “dreaded” making or accepting a call “even if it’s necessary”, while about this same number claimed the task gave them anxiety.

Are phone calls losing relevance in business?

No they are not, while it’s true that certain jobs now rely less on phone calls, for instance emails may be used in place of a phone call. There are many industries, such as Sales, where the ability to make and receive phone calls is still essential.

What can companies do?

– Awareness and Support

Organisations wanting to support their Gen Z staff to succeed will need to be knowledgeable about generational strengths and weaknesses. Of course every staff member is an individual but when bosses and managers are aware of skills trends in the workplace, they are better able to address them. Gen Z tend to be very tech savvy but being aware that this doesn’t always extend to phone calls is essential for employers.

– Training and development

Many Gen Z workers need training and development to build up their phone skills. Programs that are fun and engaging while developing these skills will tend to be more successful. Interactive training usually trumps video tutorials for instance. Mentorship programs can also be very useful as long time employees can impart their knowledge to younger employees.

– Social connections

Gen Zers have grown up in a time some are terming ‘the great screenage’. Screen-based devices are now a significant part of our day to day lives and high usage can reduce real life social interactions. The pandemic also lead to an increase in remote work in many industries which can present a challenge for Gen Zers entering the workforce. Employee wellbeing improves when companies foster social connections, this is particularly relevant for Gen Z.